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Topic: Magician vs. Other jobs
Message: Posted by: Reian (Jul 13, 2002 11:33PM)

I had a painfull discussion with another person about the living of a magician vs. electronic tech.

We were discussing money. He flat out saying that being a magician can get 7 figures salary working in Vegas or 3 figures a night working the streets. He basically said magician can make more money than an electronic tech. Im going to Heald College and that's a business/tech school and Intel hires 50 students every year. I plan to be one of the 50 students. Trust me, Intel does not pay you chump change. your able to get 7 figure if you plan to succeed and step up the ladder. Plus they offer to pay for your education. I plan to get a Ph.D.

So we discussed benifits and what came to mind is that all a magician got was doing magic, probably doing some comedy act on an open mic, lectures and conventions. Forget about the happiness you get on a persons face by seeing something magical. Then I rebuttled by saying a tech gets free eduction paid for a degree, pc trouble shooting skills, soldering skills, computer tech. Keyword is marketable.

So my question is what is it like being a pro magician. Such as what benifits you got besides lectures and conventions and meeting beautiful people.

Just want to understand and appreciate the living situation of a pro magi.

Message: Posted by: Peter Loughran (Jul 15, 2002 12:30AM)
I think it really depends on the individual and how determined you are to succeed at something. I believe that if you think something is impossible, then it will be. If you get past that, then you can succeed in anything making your dreams come true.

Although I am far from super star status, and a lot of people may never have heard of me, I do make a comfortable and reliable living performing. Yes, I also create and have marketed magic but more for recognition among my peers, the enjoyment I get out of it, as well as to add a little extra income, why not?. But really the income on the small amount of products I sell really have no bearing at all. Its hard to get rich from inventing magic but not impossible.

But the bottom line is don't let what anyone has to say to stop you from pursuing a dream. Believe in yourself and you can succeed in anything including magic. I did it! Keep your current job now for stability and work on getting to where you want to go in magic. Believe in yourself, thats it, thats all you need!

Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Jul 15, 2002 02:06AM)
My view is that you should only go into the magic full time pro if that is what you really want to do and think that you will enjoy it forget the money. If you do enjoy it then build up work as a semi pro first.
Personaly I decided that I would not go full time until I had met certian conditions.

1. I had saved at least 1 years income

2. I was earning at least 3 times my day job salery from magic.

3. I had no debt (credit card bills ext)

This makes for a good transition if you do decide to go full time. Perssonaly I love it and have not looked back. But not everyone is in this position.
Message: Posted by: Platt (Jul 15, 2002 09:21AM)
I'm a little confused as to what makes someone a "professional" magician.

Performing for money?
Performing for money and doing nothing else?
Releasing videos, books and effects?

I only ask this because two of the most inventive professional magicians I know of, Dean Dill and Ray Kosby, I'm told are really not professionals. Dean Dill is a barber. And I don't know what Ray does, but according to Richard Kaufman, he is not and has never been a professional magician. Michael Rubenstein is a Veternarian. I'm curious how many other big names are not truly practicing professionals.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Jul 15, 2002 09:50AM)
your question poses a can of worms and has been discussed elsewhere on the forum.

Most people in the magic fraternity regard the word professional as an indication of payment rather than if you are any good or not.

Amater - does not get paid to perform

Semi pro - Earns money from magic but works or has other income as well

Fulltime pro - earns their living from magic

Now I am not saying that this is right or that everyone will agree with this. But, Genneraly speaking this is the most common interpretation.

Most performers that are well known to magicians such as the names you mentioned and
I believe Larry Becker could be added to the list. whilst they give a professional performance are not full time working profesionals as such.

Hope this is of help
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Jul 15, 2002 10:01AM)
Further to Papers posting.
Some of Full time Pro's here in the UK and likely in most countries are actually Part time Pro's that lost their day job or part time pro's that are also getting early retirement benifits. They just like to use the tag.

Message: Posted by: Thoughtreader (Jul 15, 2002 06:40PM)
I have never looked back BUT consider that it is two words, show and business. The business end of it takes up a fair amount of time (unless you are one of the very fortunate few that has a manager to look after it and that is extremely rare). Many professionals must travel a fair amount and that gets very tiring at times. There is no "permanency" and jobs one day are gone the next, so if it is a slow month, you better have money placed aside to get you through the slump.

You don't have time to read and read and learn new effects every chance you get as you are usually working on stage or off, and since you will be doing the same act repeatedly (otherwise how can you expect to do it better than anyone else) so you tend not to buy a bunch of stuff anyway.

Show business isn't all glamorous but most of that are professional entertainers would never change a thing!

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Message: Posted by: christopher carter (Jul 17, 2002 10:47AM)

It doesn't sound as if you harbor any particular interest in being a professional magician. In fact, if I'm reading you correctly, you are more curious as to why a person would want to be one. If I am wrong in this, please correct me.

You have to understand that being a professional entertainer is more like a calling. You go into it because it is the only thing that will satisfy you, period. If you are going into it for any other reason, you will probably fail.

Being a professional magician is no different than being self-employed in any field. You are taking a great risk, and you pay for all of what might otherwise be considered "employee benefits." But this is also true of lawyers, accountants, and the guy who owns the local mini-marts. If you are a person who measures his life by the perks that come with being in a corporate system, then self-employment of any kind is not for you. If you are the kind of person who thinks that anything that robs you of control of your own financial destiny is tantamount to selling your sould, then the nine-to-five world is not for you.

A few professional magicians make big money. Your chances of making seven figures a year are exceedingly slim, but obviously it is possible, since some are doing it. Vastly more professionals live decent lives in middle class neigborhoods, where they love their wives and watch their kids grow up, and have the exquisite pleasure of knowing that, when they're breathing their last breath, they can look back on a life lived exclusively on their own terms. That, in a nutshell, is what it's really all about!

Christopher Carter
Message: Posted by: Kool Kat (Jul 17, 2002 06:08PM)
On 2002-07-17 11:47, christopher carter wrote:
Vastly more professionals live decent lives in middle class neigborhoods, where they love their wives and watch their kids grow up, and have the exquisite pleasure of knowing that, when they're breathing their last breath, they can look back on a life lived exclusively on their own terms. That, in a nutshell, is what it's really all about!

Christopher Carter

Chris - what a lovely thought - "a life lived exclusively on their own terms" - I like that!

Pretty hard to do, though - when you have to cope with all the other aspects of a business, as *well* as the performing side.

Unfortunately, the artistic skills and personality traits that make one a good or excellent performer are the *opposite* of the ones that make one good at business - i.e. - that will enable you to get the gigs.

My husband is an excellent performer and hates the business side. I'm a competent performer, and struggle along with the business side - not enjoying it much at all, but someone has to do it - and I want to increase our business.

Some people in this forum, (such as P.B. Jones and Scott Guinn - and many others) seem to have this sussed. I'm hoping to learn a lot by participating in this part of the cafe.

Kath Worsfold
Message: Posted by: Elwood (Jul 17, 2002 06:40PM)
The business side goes with any form of self employment...believe me I know!

However, if you find a gap in the market, be it a space for a magician or a design fo a new mousetrap, and you think you can fill it, then I suggest that you go for it! Forget making big money, just worry about keeping the wolf from the door to start with, and pretty soon you'll see that the motivation comes from the nature of the job, which in turn causes motivation...self employmeny, in any shape or form can be extremely rewarding. Even more so (in some cases) than the monetary rewards.

But please, make sure that there is a demand for what you are supplying! Just because you are a magician doesn't mean that people will want to come to your show!!!
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Jul 18, 2002 02:35PM)
"Some people in this forum, (such as P.B. Jones and Scott Guinn - and many others) seem to have this sussed. I'm hoping to learn a lot by participating in this part of the cafe."

I cannot speak for Scott or any others but I enjoy the marketing side as well as the magical performance. I enjoy playing with copy to get just the right Headline that appeals to my clients needs and designing ads
Message: Posted by: Tim David (Jul 18, 2002 02:58PM)
I'd have to say that I might even enjoy the business side of magic even more than performing.

Ok, well that's a toss-up.

I do like the business side so much that I market other magicians. Usually when I'm already booked or unavailable, I'll book a fill-in.

It's a constant job promoting myself so I wouldn't want to take on the added responsibility of promoting someone else full time too.

I do however, offer web marketing services for other magicians. Namely web site design and web marketing education.

I have a particular interest in the Internet world :)
Message: Posted by: TheDean (Jul 18, 2002 05:34PM)
Gotta' love that business stuff...

I happen to LOVE the art and intricacies of the business side of our beloved art. If any of us can ever be of service to you, I know it would be our honor! Certainly it is MINE!

Besides, It's not as tough as we tend to make it sometimes...

I am at your service,
TheDean - Deano
Message: Posted by: Allen Gittelson (Jul 19, 2002 09:23PM)
I will say that it is unrealistic to believe that a person is going to become an electronics technician from Heald College and just waltz in to Intel and get a 7 figure salary unless you count the 2 figures that are on the right side of the decimal point. A salary over one million dollars (U.S.) is just extremely uncommon, even in the electronics industry. It can be done, and if that is your goal please do what you like, but you have a lot of work ahead of you with a goal like that.

You might want to check out the information available about public companies (such as Intel) and the salaries of their executives if you want to get some understanding of what numbers even the top people make.

A quick check on the web just now showed me that Andy Grove had a salary of 1.8 million dollars in 2001, and he was the chairman of the company. The COO of intel didn't even have a 1 million dollar salary in 2001, and neither did most of the other executives listed. Sure they have tons of stock options, but please realize that these are the top dogs. Chief officers of companies typically have compensation that far exceeds that of other employees.

It's probably best to find out what you want to do and do that, but of course, it is all up to you.

Best of luck to you.

In thoughts,
Message: Posted by: Reian (Aug 4, 2002 02:35AM)
Yeah, it's unrealistic to "waltz" in and get the big money. You have to advance. That's how you get the 7 figure or 6 figure and so on. If you're the person to stick where he's at, and not advance because of "a lot of work" then I respect that but that's not me. Intel comes here once or twice a year. They lecture and we get speakers to talk to us. I understand what can happen when you stay with your lower position or you work your butt off and become a top dog or middle dog. Yes I can't just get the big money from the start. I need to advance in position and get the higher degree. Let me ask you Allen, what degree do you have? Answer it or not, I plan to go for Masters or a level higher. Word is marketable. More marketable you are more opportunities.

A person whose only capability is to work the lower position can only work the lower position. A person whose capability to work the top position can work the higher position plus the middle position and the lower position.

Lot of work, yes.
That's how you determine who is a "lump on a log" to the "people who can make that log into a chair"
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Aug 4, 2002 05:24AM)
I have a Masters Degree,I also have a Mensa Certified IQ of 141 so what ?

It is no assurance of success in any field.

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Aug 4, 2002 05:38AM)
The next time you hear a magician bragging about making a six-figure income, remember that he probably forgot to mention that there is a decimal involved! :lol:
Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Allen Gittelson (Aug 5, 2002 05:55PM)

I certainly am not implying that you or anyone else is a bump on a log. If that's how I came across, then I apologize, as I certainly conveyed the wrong message. Please do work as hard as you like towards whatever you would like to achieve.

Since you asked, I have a Bachelor of Arts degree. I also regularly perform work which most would consider to require an entirely different degree (or set of degrees as well as certifications). Most people I work with often assume that I have at least one advanced technical degree, and are surprised when they find out that I don't. I work in Silicon Valley in an advanced technical and management capacity, and I was trying to offer you a perspective that I have as someone in the industry that you seem to be headed towards. 7 figure salaries are possible, though extremely rare even in this industry. If that's your goal, then by all means, go for it. However, as others have indicated, it is not the degree that gives you the work, opportunity, or money, though it can help in some circumstances.

I have done well, I believe, because I pursue my passions. I highly recommend that you follow your passions as well. To me, the people in life who seem to be happy are those who pursue their passions.

I don't claim to know it all, but if I can provide any information that helps you, please let me know.

If you would like to PM me, I could possibly go into greater detail there.

I wish you the very best in all you pursue.

In thoughts,
Message: Posted by: Darmoe (Aug 7, 2002 11:38AM)
On 2002-08-04 06:38, Peter Marucci wrote:
The next time you hear a magician bragging about making a six-figure income, remember that he probably forgot to mention that there is a decimal involved! :lol:
Peter Marucci

:righton: Like always Peter, you hit the nail on the head!

I've been involved with pro-magic for over 35 years. I've had months where I made tens of thousands of dollars and years (can you say a full decade?) in which "life got in the way" and the end result was barely being able to eek out a living... this is a reality to anyone that is "self-employed" and thus, some important "lessons" come about that really need to be put in a book somewhere for we "performing artist" types.

GET THE DEGREE! Having a "back-up" in way of career is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO... I didn't and I've paid for it! Along this same trail... KEEP THE DAY JOB for as long as you can. Jim Stinemeyer, Glen Falkenstien and numerous other "known" personalities in magic still have a day job outside of magic. I'm fortunate enough that my two primary day jobs (Doing Readings & Writing) sustain my very expensive hobby :rolleyes: (performing, designing & giving away information & ideas I should be getting paid for... :eek: )

The other "curses" of going pro... Cost of all the equipment... keeping up with the Jones's... storage & up-keep... dealing with agents/clubs that don't pay... lack of dependible & loyal help (that's affordable)... union workers & facilities... ALL THE PAPER WORK... legal issues... well, you should be getting the point...

As a magic junkie I found myself in the position many do... too much stuff that takes up space and isn't paying for itself! The moral of this story is simple BUY WHAT YOU KNOW YOU CAN USE, WILL USE AND GET RID OF EVERYTHING ELSE!

Now to that thing about the 7-digit income... I've worked Carnies, Street Pitches, Casinos & the Trade Venues... I know you can make several hundred a day passing the hat... as much as a grand or two if you're selling Svengalli's or whatever... but that is based on location, your ability to sell, and if or not there is a traffic flow... more days than not, you wont pull in much more than a C-note or two.

Casinos... anyone can buy the floor space if they have the budget e.g. it takes money to make money and just about every second rate act on earth has rented a showroom on the Vegas strip at one time or another. That's not to say "All" the acts on the strip stink... just that anyone with a backer can become a headliner (or Tv star for that matter... ask David Blaine :hrmph: )

Trade Shows, etc. do pay well. That's the problem though... everyone and their uncle wants in on that kind of big $$$ market and anytime the supply outwieghs the demand, someone is going to lose. Buyer hire based on reputation, presentation, and price. They are looking for the most for the least. In today's economy I know for fact some of the top rated acts in these venues have been forced to cut rates and increase the "give away" side of their services in order to hold onto their position.

Another thing is "Association"... you are judged by the company you keep and how well you control your expressed thoughts... POLITICS IS EVERYTHING when you move into the higher levels of this business. Belong to the "right" clubs (not just magic but civic, commerce based, etc.)and you gain "contacts"... Thus, you are seeing that 6-7digit income but you have to pump out about 20% of it annually for membership fees to the "right" cliques + 30% or more for Press & Marketing efforts; 20%+ show reinvestment (if you can get off that cheap)... long story short, you've busted your butt all year long making a bunch of other people money and leaving you with around (the same) $50-75k net in your pocket you can earn doing local parties part time.


You bet! That's why I started changing my directions a few years ago, work smaller markets, ride the slower boat, and strive to find that "comfortable" compromise between the realm of high profile performance and the local guy that does neat tricks down the street.

Best of luck!
Message: Posted by: Bascomb Grecian (Aug 23, 2002 10:49AM)
"A few professional magicians make big money. Your chances of making seven figures a year are exceedingly slim, but obviously it is possible, since some are doing it. Vastly more professionals live decent lives in middle class neigborhoods, where they love their wives and watch their kids grow up, and have the exquisite pleasure of knowing that, when they're breathing their last breath, they can look back on a life lived exclusively on their own terms. That, in a nutshell, is what it's really all about!"

-Christopher Carter

Bravo Mr. Carter!

I am one of those guys you are speaking of.
I have been on both sides of the fence. I left a professional magic career ten years ago because of family pressure to get "a real job". I did that and was miserable. I returned to magic recently after getting burned by Corporate America through a massive layoff.

My life is 100% better! Performing Magic is my passion and always will be. I love it so much I would do it for free! Follow your dream, whatever it may be. We are all on a journey. If you find others accept and approve your magic skills-then get busy and start making a living as a performer. However, do not let money motivate whatever you decide upon. You will only set yourself up for failure. - Bascomb
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Aug 23, 2002 10:43PM)
Tommy Wonder author of "Books of Wonder said:

"There is a difficulty that lies in the question of whether fame or money are goals that can be pursued. I think not. You see, neither money nor success can be set up as goals, because they are not goals in themselves. Instead, they are the rewards for achieving a goal. Wealth will come with success. Whatever you do, the moment money or success becomes the primary goal, that very goal will evade you."
David Paul
Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Aug 24, 2002 08:00PM)
The real point to all this is, if all your going after the degrees for is the big bucks watch out for the cost when you get there. If you don't like the job when you arrive, what have you gained.

It sounds like all the degrees are in electrical, but those big paying positions are going to the guy with the MBA's and lots of time spent in seminars learning the newest greatest marketing system. Sounds alot like the magic business if you want to be successful.

Wish you all the luck on your career, but make sure when you get there you enjoy it.